This professor wears many hats to help others

Professor M S Sunil and her volunteers carrying construction material

But Sunil, a woman with a male name, is a professor in a Pathanam­­thitta college in Kerala. What makes her do extraordinary service is her love for fellow human beings and a very high degree of perseverance she possesses.

Her activities range from building houses to the poor, running a blood bank for the needy to extending all types of help to tribal people, the aged and the poor. Despite her achievements, Sunil, who is also the programme officer of National Service Scheme (NSS) in her college, is reluctant to talk about her activities.

She does not have an organisational structure or funds to execute these multifarious projects. But, realising her sincerity, help comes to her from across society and despite limitations, in a relatively short period, she has rendered more service to people than many charitable institutions or corporate groups.

Speaking to Deccan Herald about her works, Sunil said she does not have any particular inspiration for starting social work. “I have no role models. I help others in whatever way I can,” said Sunil without any airs. Her activities are not confined to any particular field as she thinks it is not right to refuse help to the needy, whatever the nature of help they need.

Home maker

Despite her manifold work, she is best known for constructing houses for the homeless. Sunil recalled how a particular incident prompted her to take up the work.

“When I learnt that one of my students stayed in a wayside shanty, I decided to build a home for her,” said Sunil. “I teamed up with like-minded friends, collected donations from the public and built a home for her in 2006,” explained Sunil.

After that there was no looking back. Sunil has handed over 18 houses to the needy till date. Three more houses are awaiting handing over and work has started on another house.

How does she raise money to fund construction? Sunil said she had collected donations for the construction of the first house. “Afterwards, I got every house sponsored by an individual,” she said.

“Once I happened to meet a US-based Keralite Prasad George, an alumnus of our college. During our conversation, he came to know about my activities and
offered to sponsor one home,” recounted Sunil. Later, Prasad went on to sponsor seven homes. Though Sunil does not make any deliberate effort to find sponsors, kind-hearted people who meet her in course of her work offer her help.

The houses she build have a standard plan; two rooms, toilet and a kitchen. The estimated cost of construction is Rs 1  lakh. Sunil said students at her college
volunteer during construction. All the beneficiaries are selected by Sunil after verifying their credentials. “When I come across a family living in a shanty by the wayside I will collect their details and offer my help,” she said.

Among tribals

Her charity works are not confined to Pathanamthitta town or nearby villages. A colony of tribals at the remote village of Chalakkayam bordering forests in Pathanamthitta stand testimony to her work among tribal people. Earlier, these tribal people used to keep a distance from others and used to run inside forests when they saw strangers. Sunil’s perseverance saw their attitude changing. She is in the forefront to provide them housing and medicines. She receives calls from strangers everyday requesting help. Wherever possible, Sunil is ready to extend a helping hand. Be it money for the operation of a child with cleft-lip or finding a shelter for the destitute children or the aged.

She has taken the initiative to get admitted as many as 85 destitute children to Kokka­thode Balika Sadan in the district and 38 old people at Santhi Bhavan, Pathanapuram in the neighbouring district of Kollam. Sunil has donated 170 wheel chairs bought with her own money to the disabled. Sunil believes that charity works are not just enough to fight poverty. Education is one of the key weapons in fighting poverty. With this in mind she has helped to start 18 libraries. She collects books from those willing to donate and hands them over to those who are willing to start a library. She says one of the memorable experiences during this work is starting a library in the Pathanamthitta sub-jail which got unprecedented welcome from inmates.

Sunil has a heart to help those who are shunned by society. That prompted her to work for the cause of those who are HIV positive. Apart from helping such
patients, Sunil conducts programmes among different sections in the society.  

Sunil is highly sought after leadership trainer also. In her training programmes she spreads the message of the need to do service. While undertaking her commitments to society how does Sunil manage to perform her duties towards family? “It is a difficult task, but one has to strike a balance, she said adding that mostly she has to compromise on the family front. luckily my family is supports my social
activities, she said. While we are talking, her son asks her to accompany to another town. But Sunil lovingly pressurises him to go alone. I have to participate in a
voluntary sanitation work, she says. For her society comes first!

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